Scottish scientists have uncovered clues about a catastrophic event that radically altered the Earth's surface almost 500 million years ago.

Microscopic particles found in rocks on a Highland beach contain tiny remnants of meteorites. Experts at the University of Aberdeen believe the finds within rocks along the shore near Durness, Sutherland, are evidence of a massive collision in the asteroid belt 470 million years ago between Mars and Jupiter which resulted in thousands of meteorites landing on Earth.

The force of the impacts across the planet may have caused earthquakes and tidal waves, leading to erosion around the margins of the continents.

The research confirms previous scientific speculation that the meteorite shower was so vast it affected locations across the world, including Scotland.

Around the same time life on Earth - then restricted to the ocean's and seas - flourished with thousands of new species.